I  have just returned from the world premiere of the Golden Compass London. It was quite an amazing walking the red carpet in style followed by the lenses of photographers and news crews from around the globe. Many fans of the stars of the movie had been queuing since 8 am to catch a glimpse of the celebrities as they made their way to the very first viewing of the highly anticipated adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novel Northern Lights. 

It’s a strange feeling to walk down that red carpet with crowds of film-fans watching. Just above the entrance to the cinema, three large gas flares had been mounted. They cast intermittent flickering flashes of light across the darkness of the square, and every minute or so each of the flames exploded in sequence with a loud crack. It sounded like the deep-throated boom of an enormous drum. Their thumping background track made the whole experience quite amazing… Ahead of me on the red carpet was Daniel Craig and his elegant girlfriend Satsuki Mitchell who we caught a glimpse of before we were ushered into the cinema…

Then after on-screen interviews with each of the actors which were to be aired on t4 later that week. Before the film started Chris Weitz stood up in front of the screen and introduced some of the team who make the film work. And among them we got our only chance to see Pantalaimon’s voice (Lyra’s daemon), wearing a smart yellow jumper. We the audience clapped each one in turn as they walked in front of the towering Odeon screen to join the line-up. And you know what? It’s surprising how small actors really are when they stand in front of that big, big screen, instead of being projected on it. But despite not being projectorially enlarged Eve Green and Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig Stan Elliot was overpoweringly super-hairy and Dakota Blue Richards smiled so sweetly she melted the heart of every father who is lucky enough to have a daughter. It made for an electric atmosphere in the theatre as the film-makers trooped off, the microphone was whipped away, the lights dimmed and the curtains slowly opened.

Then followed a real treat, two hours of a magical world of Daemons, Gyptians and the Kingdom of the Ice Bears. Children and adults alike thrilled to the charms of the Daemons – (pronounced DEE-mon) which is the individual’s soul that inhabits that of their animal companion. Children’s Daemons change shape and species until they formalise into one when the child reaches adulthood. The main character Lyra (played by Dakota Blue Richards) has an adorable Daemon called Panteleimon or Pan for short, whose voice is provided by Freddie Highmore. We all fell in love with Pan and the character of Lyra is every little girl’s dream – feisty, independent and eternally brave. Dakota Blue was superb and really was the essence of the film encapsulated – magical, strong and moral. This is the kind of films children should be shown to inspire them to be good people.

In a world dominated by the eerie power of the Magisterium, Lyra finds herself drawn into the adult world of danger and mystery. After her Uncle Asrail (Daniel Craig) sets off on a seemingly doomed expedition to the North, Lyra is recruited by the beautiful but sinister Mrs Coulter (Nicole Kidman) as her assistant. After fleeing from Mrs Coulter (and her horrible Daemon!) Lyra embarks on a dangerous and terrifyingly exciting mission to rescue her friends from the clutches of the Magisterium’s experimental faction aided by the nomadic Gyptians, a Texan cowboy aeronaut and the most beautiful and fearsome armoured ice bear called Iorek Byrnison. We are continually thrilled and dismayed as the story pulls us from delight to danger and back again. The special effects are superb and the sets magnificent. During an exhilarating fight between Iorek and the King of the Ice Bears, we were on the edge of our seats willing Iorek to win – a resounding cheer went up at the end!

All in all a masterpiece and one that children and adults alike will thoroughly enjoy this Xmas.

After the film came the Premiere party at Tobacco Dock where a warehouse had been transformed into a wonderland for our entertainment. We alighted our coach to the magnificent setting of drifting snow and an aerobatic display by a young lady dangling elegantly from a large balloon! Surrounded by “guards” from the film, we were welcomed by “Iorek” – a kinetic replica of the Ice Bear. Inside the building was as enchanting as outside – a snowy tree-lined avenue guided us to the main area where there were differently themed rooms to reflect the concepts of the film, complete with Daemons. Everywhere glittered and was magnificently adorned with chandeliers, props from the film and a variety of different “climates” were reproduced from mysterious fogginess to the delicately drifting snow of the North! Everybody mingled happily and we were often whisked past by Dakota Blue (and friends) who was utterly charming and delightfully down-to-earth. Finally, in the early hours we were driven back to our hotel and left to revel in what was one of the most magical evenings I have had the pleasure to experience!


The Greatest Guru


The Egyptian Book of the Dead Display at the British Museum


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